Planet X FX

Making of creating fake cold breath for The Resistance Banker

Some seemingly small details are not always easy to create while shooting a film. A good example of this are so-called 'breathing clouds' or visible condensation; a beautiful, visual phenomenon to emphasize cold. For several scenes in Banker van het Verzet it is important that we 'feel' the cold on top of the acting performances of the actors, but during the recordings (which did not necessarily take place in winter) this phenomenon could not be forced, while the story takes place partly in winter of wartime.

Breath clouds only arise when there is a large enough difference between the temperature of your breath and the ambient temperature. That's why we looked for a room where frozen products are normally stored to make recordings of only the breath clouds. The temperature in this environment is around -20 degrees and therefore produces very visible condensation. These 'elements' are then incorporated into the shots with the actors to make the cold even more tangible.

To make this possible, it is important to be able to isolate the breath clouds from the recordings in the freezer. By filming the haze with backlight against a completely black background, only the light pixels can be filtered out of the image. Even the person who makes the breath clouds must wear black clothing, a black mask, etc., so that only the breath clouds can be seen as a lighting element.

Because the shots to which the breath clouds will be added are already known, each unique situation has been analyzed in advance for lighting, camera angle and timing of the breath of the actors. By playing these shots as separate clips (in a loop) during filming in the freezer, the rhythm of the breathing of the actors, with or without movements, dialogue, etc., could be reproduced in order to achieve the most realistic result possible.